Category Archives: Fast Food

Are Kodiak Cups Good For A Quick Breakfast?

So, first, thank you to Kodiak Cakes for the RD Kit containing free products. I have been wanting to sample Kodiak cakes. As a regular macro-tracker, the higher amount of protein in Kodiak products intrigued me. I jumped at the chance when I found out they offered an RD Kit with some samples. I received four products in my kit. Two were grab-and-go (Kodiak Cups) and two flour mixes (Flapjack and Waffle Mixes).

To be transparent, there are no strings attached to the kit. The company shares these kits with RDs in the hopes that we will like their products and share our preference with our clients. You can see on my disclosure page that I give honest reviews of products and would never let receiving a free product or training influence my review.

I tried the Kodiak oatmeal first and was happy to see they sent my favorite flavor: maple and brown sugar.

In terms of ease of breakfast, this is a big winner. I used my electric tea kettle to heat water, added, and let it sit covered for the recommended two minutes. You can also add water and microwave. It does not get any easier than that.

On the positive side, the oatmeal has a good flavor, a good consistency, no aftertaste, and a nice ingredients list. I was concerned about the very small portion and it only has about half of the calories of my typical breakfast. This little cup of oatmeal kept me full until lunchtime which surprised me.

If you take a look at the nutrition facts, I’m sure you can figure out that the staying power was due to the carbohydrates and protein. I personally would like to see a little more fiber in an oatmeal product, but the small amount of fiber is most likely due to the small serving size.

When it comes to grains, always look for a product that lists the first ingredient as whole grain – which this one does. The protein was increased in this product by adding pea and milk proteins. I’m not one who is afraid of long complicated words on an ingredients list but this one keeps it very simple and I’m sure many “clean eaters” would give this product a thumbs up.

Overall thoughts?

Two Forks up! This is delicious, filling, and heart healthy.

Next, I tried the flapjacks in the Kodiak Cup. This serving size made my eyes much happier as it filled up more of the container. It smells amazing and has a good crumb; but I do recommend a spoon instead of a fork as it ends up getting very crumbly as it is eaten. Per my husband, this tastes like smushed up pancakes and it is true the finished product was a little bit dense.

This is also lower calorie for a breakfast for me, so I added some butter, which made it taste even better. If you’re looking to add calories. you could also add some syrup (but it totally isn’t needed) or top it with an egg.

Nutritionally my one concern was the high amount of saturated fat and this is due to the use of palm oil.

So let’s talk about that for a minute. In the big picture of a day’s eating, 4.5 grams of saturated fat at breakfast is not going to put you over any recommendations. The recommendations are to keep saturated fats to anywhere between 7% – 10% of total calories. What concerns me about the saturated fat makes up more than half of the total fats in the product.

Wait a minute… let’s think about this a little more and take a look at the ingredients. I will first say that nothing in the ingredients list concerns me in any way. I’m investigating why there’s such a high ratio of saturated fat to total fat in the product. It is because they use palm and palm kernel oil, which are both saturated fats. My guess is this is to prevent the product from going bad too quickly. Unsaturated fats are less stable and will go rancid more quickly, so I am guessing that they balanced out the need for shelf stability with the desire for a nice nutrition profile.

Big picture – 4.5 grams of saturated fat at one meal is not going to put anyone over the recommendations; but it is something to be aware of if you are watching your saturated fats for heart health.

I would also like to see just a little bit more protein in this product to give it a little more staying power.

Overall thoughts?

One Fork up! This is also delicious but it’s just a little less filling and has a little too much saturated fat for my preference. However… if you compare this to traditional pancakes you’re going to find that this has a nicer nutrition profile.

This RD says Kodiak Cups are dietitian approved for a filling, nutritious breakfast. Give these a try and let me know what you think!

Bag Full of Heart Healthy Foods

No More Excuses for Fast Food!

I get it. You’re busy, you’re tired, you don’t have time for meal planning, grocery shopping, meal prepping. You think your only option is that fast food drive through or the quick convenience restaurants.

I completely disagree.

We are ALL busy, tired, and don’t have free time to do all that planning and preparation. You have no less hours in your days that anyone else. You have chosen how to prioritize your time and to what and whom you give your time and effort. I’m not trying to make you feel any certain way but I can already hear your reasons that it’s not your choice and there is nothing you can do to change it.

Perhaps that is true for some people. I’ve been a caretaker for a family member going through a multiple year crisis and I found myself not taking care of myself at first. After devoting all my energy to care-taking, I realized I needed to take care of me too and I found a way to fit it in. (Anyone else ever walked the parking garage stairs and levels at a hospital? Yep, me too).

The thing is – we pay for our choices one way or the other. We pay in dollars and health when we routinely eat most choices available for a quick lunch (and we save time and effort). We pay in time and effort spent every evening or in a block of time on the weekends to meal plan, shop, and cook dinner (and we save our health and dollars). You get to decide which is more important for you in this moment.

The good news is that YOU have the power to shift your schedule and priorities. Maybe not completely; but I challenge you to find ONE SMALL THING over which you have control and can make a change.

Trust me – you’ll feel better if you do. 🙂

So, to help you realize that you DO have some control to choose something simple – like a healthier lunch or snacks – I bring you my “I’m-starving-and-have-nothing-to-eat-for-lunch” list for the grocery store. These are grab-and-go meals and snacks that you can choose instead of a fast food meal. (Spoiler alert – that fast food salad likely has more calories and less nutrition than the bacon cheeseburger).

  • Lunch?
    • Tuna (or salmon packet or packaged grilled chicken strips) mixed into prepared green salad (from produce section) with dressing of your choice
    • 1 whole wheat roll with sliced meat and cheese (all from the deli so you get only what you need!) plus a mustard packet and box of high-fiber crackers
      • Bonus – now you’ve got crackers to stash at your desk for snack-time!
    • Sushi roll with edamame (if store has this option)
    • Diced fruit and nuts on cottage cheese (major yum!)
  • Going back to the office?
    • Frozen dinner and steamer bag of vegetables (no sauces please)
    • Can of low-sodium soup plus green salad (from produce section) with dressing
  • Snacks?
    • Cheese stick with those crackers you stashed in your desk
    • Chopped fruit from produce section with a handful of nuts
    • Yogurt with Grape Nuts (really, don’t spend money on “granola” or “trail mix” as Grape Nuts give you the crunch without added sugar or ridiculous price!)
    • Apple with peanut butter (single packs are now sold! Try the natural no-sugar-added kind)

Oh, and do yourself one more favor and just grab a simple, cold, refreshing bottle of water (or fill up your bottle!) on your way out of the store.

Tell me  your other ideas and tricks for eating healthy when crunched for time?



Fast Food: Cheeseburger Vs. Salad


I admit it. I watched part of The Doctors television show the other day. I caught a segment on how Americans eat and one of the doctors was working at a fast food drive-through window attempting to get customers to choose a healthy meal over the unhealthy meal they were ordering. It did not go that well for him. Only one person on the segment out of four changed their meal after he told them how unhealthy their selection was in terms of calories, fat, and sodium levels.

What stuck with me was that one woman said that a cheeseburger was kind of like a salad. Her point was that salads have vegetables and cheeseburgers have vegetables. Therefore, they are similar. The audience laughed good-heartedly and I groaned and laughed.

Then I got to thinking… Is a fast-food salad really that much better of an option than a fast-food cheeseburger? I turned to the restaurant’s Web sites to make some comparisons.


Let me start by saying that there are other choices than what I have compared below. If the Wendy’s Garden Side Salad with no croutons and low-fat dressing (70 calories, 0 g fat, 190 mg sodium) or the ¾-pound Dave’s Hot ‘N Juicy Triple Burger (1060 calories, 67 g fat, 2020 mg sodium) are your choices then yes, the salad is much healthier. However, I have tried to pick middle of the road choices that I think people would make in these examples.

First, I compared a regular McDonald’s Cheeseburger to their Premium Southwest Salad with Grilled Chicken (with and without the creamy southwest dressing). As the table below shows, the salad with dressing, which is how most people would order it, has 90 more calories, 2 more grams of fat, and 240 more milligrams of sodium than the cheeseburger. If you can go without the dressing for the salad, you are only saving 10 calories, 4 grams of fat, and 100 milligrams of sodium versus the cheeseburger. That is not a huge difference.

Food Calories Fat Sodium
Cheeseburger 300 12 750
Salad 290 8 650
Salad with dressing 390 14 990

Next, I moved to Wendy’s to compare the Jr. Cheeseburger Deluxe to their Apple Pecan Chicken Salad (with and without the pomegranate vinaigrette dressing). Again, the cheeseburger is the healthiest option in terms of calories, fat, and sodium. The salad with dressing has 210 more calories, 8 more grams of fat, and nearly 700 more milligrams of sodium. If you can go without the dressing, you will still have 100 more calories and 3 more grams of fat than the cheeseburger; but you will save almost 300 milligrams of sodium.

Food Calories Fat Sodium
Jr. Cheeseburger Deluxe 350 19 850
Salad 450 21 580
Salad with dressing 560 27 1540

I could continue; but I think the pattern is clear. The salad is not always the healthier choice at a fast food restaurant. We are still operating under the assumption that the salad is always healthier, or at least that audience and I were, and that is just not true! Now, there is a lot to consider when deciding which choice is healthier, such as the types of fats, cholesterol, and other nutrients such as the vitamins and minerals. But if I included all of that, you would have stopped reading by now…

My advice?

1. – Avoid the fast food places altogether. You can make a yummy salad or a healthier cheeseburger at home using a small portion of lean grass-fed beef, low-fat cheese, and lots of vegetables.

2. – If you cannot avoid the fast food restaurant, ask for the nutrition information before you order (many have handouts) or look at their Web site before you go. Most importantly, make your choice before you order at the register (where you can see the pictures and smell the food).

3. – Realize that what you think may be an unhealthy choice, may not be the unhealthiest choice on the menu. Sometimes, the cheeseburger may be better than the salad.


As always – enjoy your food!


Original publication date: December 10, 2011 at

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